2022-23 Fantasy Hockey: Goal categories start with Andrei Vasilevsky and Igor Shesterkin

The most difficult position to assess in fantasy hockey is undoubtedly the goalkeepers. There are very few goalkeepers you can count on on a yearly basis, so choosing a top-tier goalkeeper is crucial, as most goal groups will use two goals and allocate 25-40 percent of categories to the position. With that in mind, let’s break this year’s set of goalkeepers into categories.

Level 1 – Elite

Andrei Vasilevsky, Igor Shesterkin

Vasilevskiy has been at the top level for the past five seasons and is the most reliable goalkeeper in the NHL as far as Fantasy is concerned. The fact that he plays for a senior team in Lightning assures him of a lot of wins, and he continues to shine in the GAA and provide the percentage, even though his numbers in those categories fell last season to 2.49 and 0.916 from 2.21 and 0.925 in. 2020-21. Shesterkin joined the First Division for the first time – he was outstanding in 2021-22. Talk of Hart Trophy topped up in a slump in the second week of March that lasted into the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, but he eventually turned it around. However, his play in the first 60 games of the season was exceptional, so he managed to finish third in the Hart Race while winning the Vezina Cup as the best goalkeeper in the NHL. Shesterkin finished the season with a score of 36-13-4 to go with a 2.07 GAA and 0.935 savings percentage. Each of the netminders must be drafted into the top seven to eight picks in the opening round of the Fantasy Drafts.

Level 2 – Vezina Rivals

Frederic Andersen, Elijah Sorokin, Jose Saros, Jacob Markstrom, Jack Campbell, Jake Oettinger, Thatcher Dimko

Each goalkeeper in the second division is entitled to participate in rounds 2-4. Sorokin could be the best of the group if the islanders change things up with their new coach, his GAA and savings ratio was impressive last season, but his lack of wins (26) has pushed him back. Anderson was fantastic in his first season with the Hurricanes, going 35-14-3 with a 2.17 GAA and 0.922 savings percentage. Edmonton is hoping for the same after being signed to free agency this summer. Campbell was fantastic in the first half of 2021-22, but faltered in the second half of the season. However, the Oilers have gone through free agency and they expect Campbell to be among the top ten goalkeepers in 2022-23. Sarros quickly made Nashville fans forget about the great Pekka Rinne, and Markstrom led the NHL into lockdown last season with nine, more than Sorokin. Oettinger is one of the best up-and-coming goalkeepers in the NHL. Demko will play a lot of games with the Canucks and have a lot of wins, but his GAA might be average.

Level 3 – Veterans (and others)

Marc-Andre Fleury, Sergey Bobrovsky, Connor Helbwick, Tristan Jarry, Darcy Comber, Alexander Georgiev

Veterans who top the third tier are likely to be on the downside of their careers. Fleury will start the season with his third team in three years, and while he has played well, he will be 38 when the season is two months old. Florey was better with Wild after his trade than the Blackhawks in last year’s deadline, going 9-2-0. Bobrovsky returned to form last season after two modest campaigns with Florida, but future Panthers goalkeeper Spencer Knight chased after him and could see a major drop in his starts in 2022-23. Hellebuyck was part of last season with Vasilevskiy but has since fallen out. If he can get back up to level, he’ll jump to level two, but Winnipeg isn’t a great team and Helley’s win total will likely be suppressed. Gary starred with the Penguins last season and got some attention from Vezina. At the age of 27, he was in the prime of his career, but 2021-22 really was Gary’s first good season. Quimper moves from Stanley Cup champion Avalanche to the capitals. Kuemper had a great season with Avs last year, going 37-12-4 with 2.54 GAA and 0.921 savings, but he will be hard-pressed to come close to that mark with Washington. Georgiev is the wild card here as he goes from being a reserve player with the Rangers to the first round with Colorado. If he plays well, Georgiev will be a steal if you pick him up after the fourth round.

Level 4 – Goalkeeper

Ilya Samsonov, Matt Murray, Jeremy Swayman, Linus Olmark

This is undoubtedly the most interesting level as the Maple Leafs and Bruins are both in the top seven, but they haven’t decided which goalkeeper should be their number one. I tend to Samsonov and Swayman. Both will go early in the drafts, but Murray and Ullmark are able to get started and turn into big fantasy assets. You’ll take a chance with any of these goalkeepers if you pick them up early, but the risk/reward might be worth it.

Level 5 – Next Best

Elvis Merslikins, Jonathan Quick, Jordan Bennington, Logan Thompson, Phil Hoso, James Rimmer, John Gibson

Merzlikins will be starting in Columbus with the improved Blue Jackets – he could have a career year. He rebounded quickly last season to reclaim the starting grid in Los Angeles after three miserable years, but at 36, that shouldn’t be expected to happen again, even though the Kings are a rising team. Bennington is still living from winning the Stanley Cup in 2019, and while he won 30 games the following season, he has recorded just 18 wins in each of the past two years. Thompson will likely get his first crack when starting in Vegas with Robin Lehner out this year, and he could rise up the ranks if the Golden Knights return to glory. Hoso was fantastic with St. Louis last season, but Detroit is still a team not ready to make the playoffs, and that will likely hurt their stats. Reimer will start with a San Jose team that will struggle to make it to the playoffs. Gibson has struggled the past two seasons, but the ducks could surprise, especially if Gibson regains Mojo.

Carter Hart, Vitek Vanishek, Cam Talbot, Philip Grobur, Jake Allen, Spencer Knight

Hart will be looking to recover after poor seasons with a lackluster Philadelphia team. Vanecek is moving from Washington to New Jersey where he should start from the heavily injured MacKenzie Blackwood. Talbot is moving from Minnesota to the Ottawa team that might surprise many. Grubauer was a star in Colorado in the 2020-21 season, but was out in Seattle in his first season in the NHL. Allen could jump from that level as Montreal played much better under Martin St. Louis, who would have the team for the entire year. It’s hard to put Knight in any category because he is the future goalkeeper of the Panthers, but for now Bobrovsky is still the “10 million dollar man”. I think Knight will be the kicker by Christmas, but he may not be playing enough to score a big win.

Level 7 – Worth crafting only in deep pools

Karel Vimelka, Craig Anderson, Kevin Lankinen

While Anderson plays for Buffalo, he could be a lot better this season. He is 41 years old and is not expected to bear much of a burden in terms of the matches played. Vejmelka and Lankinen will start for Arizona and Chicago respectively, and both teams are looking to the tank to try to get their first overall pick. The remaining goalkeepers not mentioned here should be backup and deserve to be selected only in the deepest gatherings.

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